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A powerful weapon in the arsenal – Cash in the News

In a long, thoughtful article on basic income, Jesse Walker describes the idea’s history from Thomas Paine, through President Nixon, to GiveDirectly and current debates. In a piece in Brookings, John McArthur, referencing GiveDirectly, focuses on basic income and developing countries and proposes that 66 countries could eliminate poverty with a simple basic income.


1. The Indestructible Idea of the Basic Income
Reason, Jesse Walker, July 2017
But while most NGOs still approach conditional cash transfers warily, a dissenting segment of the aid industry has moved on to an even simpler idea: conditionless cash transfers. The leading player here is GiveDirectly, a U.S.-based group buoyed both by the research showing cash transfers’ effectiveness and by the rise of mobile payments, which have made it much easier to send people money without passing through political or bureaucratic middlemen. Follow-up research on GiveDirectly’s efforts in western Kenya showed that the recipients used the money to build assets, invest in small businesses, and purchase more food; contrary to some cynical expectations, and in line with other studies of cash-based aid, there was no boost in spending on alcohol, tobacco, or gambling.

2. How many countries could end extreme poverty tomorrow?
Brookings, John McArthur, June 1, 2017
Another part of the assertion draws from the work of GiveDirectly, a non-profit enterprise pioneering unconditional cash transfers in some of the world’s poorest communities. Alongside a growing body of independent academic research, the organization has been using its annual budget of around $40 million to demonstrate the lasting benefits of simply giving poor people small amounts of money. Last year GiveDirectly launched an East African project piloting a guaranteed basic income, in which people receive transfers worth a little more than 50 cents per day, or $200 per year. When translated to purchasing power parity terms, this is roughly the amount required to raise incomes above the global extreme poverty line. Let’s call these EPECTs—extreme poverty-ending cash transfers.


3. Fiscal Policy under Demographic Change and Radical Uncertainties in Asia
IMF, Mitsuhiro Furusawa, June 5, 2017
First, it can facilitate income redistribution through improved transfers and more progressive tax instruments. Expansion of cash transfers and broadening the tax base of the personal income tax could increase equity in emerging market and developing economies. For example, the Philippines expanded its conditional cash transfer programs targeting to eligible, poor households. This was subject to their compliance with conditions about educational enrollment and health statutes.

4. FDR seeks funds for Midwest drought relief, June 4, 1934
Politico, Andrew Glass, June 3, 2017
For those who remained in hard-hit areas, Roosevelt’s aid plan provided cash grants, livestock feed and farm equipment. It also offered free emergency medical care to poverty-stricken people. Prodded by Roosevelt, the Democratic-controlled Congress funded research into better land-management practices while setting up government-run markets for farm produce.


5. Why I won’t be giving to the Salvos Appeal
The Sydney Morning Herald, Garry Linnell, June 2, 2017
So enter effective altruism, a new movement that says we should continue to empathise with the suffering of others – but before giving we should demand evidence that funds are going where they should and the outcomes are measured and provable. Led by figures like the philosopher Peter Singer, effective altruism calls for a measure of intellectual rigour rather than a robotic handing over of cash. When you do the research, you find organisations like GiveWell that, through strict monitoring, rate the most effective charities.

6. Are we really a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns?
Fife Today, Sheona Small, June 1, 2017
Singer has been described as the father of a movement called effective altruism – I highly recommend your spend a few minutes finding out more about it here – and argues that those who have enough to spend on luxuries but don’t share even a tiny fraction of their income with the poor, have to bear some responsibility for deaths that they could have prevented.


7. You Have a Donor-Advised Fund. Now What?
Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Guyton, June 4, 2017
Nearly 270,000 individual DAF accounts (including 10% of our firm’s clients) now hold close to $80 billion in assets with the average account at about $235,000 according to data from the National Philanthropic Trust.


8. Basic Income Experiment A Part Of NDP-Green Deal To Govern B.C.
Huffington Post Canada, Daniel Tencer, May 31, 2017
Canada could soon have a second province running a basic income experiment. The NDP-Green Party partnership that’s likely to form the next government in British Columbia has included the basic income in its agreement to govern. The document includes a pledge “to design and implement a basic income pilot to test whether giving people a basic income is an effective way to reduce poverty, improve housing, health and employment.”